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LA Times Burglary Scam Suspect Enters Plea

San Gabriel Valley residents were targeted.

An ex-con accused of involvement in a burglary ring that targeted Los Angeles Times subscribers, who had notified the newspaper to stop deliveries while they went on vacation, pleaded not guilty Friday to a half- dozen felony counts.

Duane Van Tuinen, 51, of Azusa, is charged with one count each of first- degree residential burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of ammunition and possession of methamphetamine, and two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon with four prior convictions.

The conspiracy charge alleges that Van Tuinen entered a distribution warehouse in Baldwin Park last June and "stole a list of the Los Angeles Times subscribers who had called in to suspend their paper delivery for vacations."

Van Tuinen worked as an office machine repairman who was under contract to distributors of the Los Angeles Times to repair their office machines, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said.

The criminal complaint alleges that Van Tuinen has a criminal record dating back to 1996 that includes two burglary convictions in Los Angeles County in 2005 and 2008.

Co-defendant Randall Joseph Whitmore, 43, of La Verne, is charged with one count each of first-degree residential burglary and receiving stolen property.

Both men are due back in West Covina Superior Court Feb. 13 for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require them to stand trial.

Monrovia Police participated in the burglary bust and urged potential victims to contact the sheriff's department earlier this week.

Two other men who were arrested in connection with the alleged ring remain jailed, but no charges have been filed against them to date in connection with the burglaries.

They were identified by sheriff's investigators as Joshua Box, 43, of Arcadia, and Edwin Valentine, 52, of Covina.

Detectives believe the ring was involved in more than 25 burglaries in areas that included Hacienda Heights, Diamond Bar, Walnut and Chino Hills.

Last week, authorities seized hundreds of pieces of stolen property from dozens of residential burglaries, Nishida said. The property included collectible coins, collectible swords, musical instruments, computers and jewelry.

Detectives have tracked down some of the victims and returned their property to them, and urged other possible victims to contact them to retrieve their recovered property.

Nancy Sullivan, The Times' vice president of communications, said the newspaper has made changes in its delivery policies since being made aware of the crimes.

"We continuously review and upgrade our policies and systems to protect and best serve our customers," Sullivan said.

R. Ray Morford February 02, 2013 at 10:07 PM
The Los Angeles County Court System is in a mess. The Plea Bargain is an easy out for the Defendant to plead guilty to a lessor crime. The Public Defender, if any, gets the case off their desk, the defendant spends less time in jail, and the public gets screwed because the crook is back on the street sooner. THIS IS YOUR TAX DOLLAR BEING SPENT WISELY. Mmmmmmmm
Ellen Zunino February 02, 2013 at 11:05 PM
How can there be multiple victims and the suspects charged only with one count of residential burglary?
Dan Crandell February 03, 2013 at 03:10 AM
The one charge holds them in custody while the investigation continues. There could possibly be several dozen charges by the time this goes to trail.
Carole Curran February 03, 2013 at 02:56 PM
He be goin' to the Big House!
c l doe February 04, 2013 at 11:07 AM
i put my la times on vacation hold. soon after, i noticed an open wireless network was avaiable to me at home. i joined it. says later, my wireless router has been hacked and my two home office computers hacked. should i report this to the sheriff? i am a retired tech worker, and i smell a rat! thanks for any advice.
Kyle Osborne February 04, 2013 at 04:05 PM
I think you misread the article. It said that he entered a plea, in the headline however the article details that the plea was "not guilty". There is no plea bargain, yet.
American Citizen February 10, 2013 at 09:31 PM
Yeah this would be an open and shut case if the police officers involved could just do their jobs. Then facts behind this case are that the Glendora Police Department think that violating our rights is justified by the end results..I disagree, and so should every other American citizen who believes in freedom and The Constitution. They pulled over one of the "suspects" for not wearing a seat belt! Not on probation or parole, and committing no crime, except the seat belt violation, however the cop decided to re-write the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment. He asks and is refused permission to search the vehicle. He violated that right and searches anyway. Finding nothing that could be described as illegal and impounds the vehicle, seizes property including a cell phone that he searches, calls people from and keeps,nothing illegal to a normal citizen to possess. Holds the "suspect" in jail with false, made up charges at a 1 million dollar bail. For nothing! Which is proven in the release of this person and no charges being filed for there was no evidence of any crime that had been committed, no probable cause and no oversight on these officers and their flagrant violation of the rights they are sworn to uphold. So if convicting them in the Court of Public Opinion is all they can get, they may have to take it. The fruit of the poisonous tree is obvious in this case, and the officers deserve to be reprimanded and sent back to study the law, they are responsible for upholding.

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